Father Guy Tachard, SJ
Ambassador to Siam



Scott 1136 Scott 1137 detail of stamp
THAILAND, 1985, 300 years of diplomatic relations between Thailand and France, Scott 1136-37

In 1684 some Siamese representatives arrived in France. In response the King of France sent a delegation to Siam (today Thailand) which included six Jesuit mathematicians bound for China, among them Fr. Guy Tachard, SJ (1651-1712). The audience of the French with the King of Siam in 1685 is pictured on the first stamp of the pair: the leader of the delegation, Alexandre, Chevalier de Chaumont, lifts a letter from Louis XIV up to King Narai, who leans down to accept it.

Fr. Tachard was particularly trusted by the prime minister and was sent back with a delegation from the King of Siam to the Court of France. The reception of the Siamese delegation by the Sun King at Versailles is shown on the other stamp above and on the French stamp below. The cleric dressed in simple black, standing with the Siamese envoys and holding a letter is Tachard. The engraving on the French stamp (see below) is the frontispiece of a book that contains the scientific observations Fr. Tachard wrote on the long journey home.

Scott 1991 
FRANCE, 1986, Scott 1991; frontispiece and title page of book

While the Siameseprime minister had trusted Fr. Tachard more than other members of the delegation and had confided certain political missions to him, the ostensible reason for his return to France was to bring a dozen scientists back to help the king set up an observatory. Tachard had arrived in Siam on 3 October 1685 and at a lunar eclipse on 11 December he and the other Jesuits demonstrated astronomical equipment to King Narai at Lop Buri. In 1687 Tachard returned to Siam with 13 other Jesuit scientists. They demonstrated a solar eclipse for the king on 30 April 1688. The event is illustrated on a label from Ajman (below). Tachard was not among them, he was on his way back to France. Unfortunately this eclipse was also the signal among theking's opposition for a revolution and the king was killed.

Ajman label a late 17th century Jesuit watercolor, Observation of an Eclipse of the Sun at the Jesuit Observatory in Siam
Ajman State and its Dependencies, 1973, a label from the History of Space cinderella mini-sheet

Ajman is an Arab emirate which from 1972 has been part of the United Arab Emirates and has issued no stamps recognized as valid postage after that time. On History of Space, a 1973 and therefore a postally invalid mini-sheet with 8 stamps and 8 labels, one label shows a late-17th-century Jesuit watercolor, Observation of an Eclipse of the Sun at the Jesuit Observatory in Siam. Details are clearer in the print at the right: the king speaks to one of the Jesuits and observes through a window; ten other Jesuits sit in a circle with their interpreter, servants prostrate themselves on either side.